|20,000 farmers march to Mumbai demanding loan waiver, drought compensation|
Mumbai: Over 20,000 farmers are marching from Thane to Mumbai, demanding state government's support on several issues including compensation for drought and loan waiver.
The two-day march started at Thane on Wednesday at 10 am. Farmers will reach Mumbai's Somaiyya Ground at 5 pm, where a rally is scheduled to be held. The march will conclude at Azad Maidan on Thursday, where farmers will stage an indefinite sit-in till demands are met.
The march has been organised by Lok Sangharsh Morcha. It is being led by water conservation activist Rajendra Singh and Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, reported news agency PTI.
Traffic jams are likely in Mumbai as the protesting farmers.
In March this year, nearly 50,000 farmers walked all the way from Nashik in north Maharashtra to Mumbai to demand loan waiver and implementation of the Forest Rights Act, among other things.
"Farmers across Maharashtra are reeling under insensitive and anti-farmer policies of the state government and therefore we have no option but to strike the government with farmers' unity," general secretary of the Morcha, Pratibha Shinde, said at a press conference.
Protesters' demands include time-bound implementation of Forest Rights Act, total loan waiver, stopping of displacement of tribal villages due to Nar-Par, Damanganga and Vagh Pinjal river linking projects, stopping of acquisition of land for the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway and bullet train, she said.
"Our march will be peaceful and we will ensure that people in the city are not inconvenienced," she said, adding, "Government's loan waiver scheme has not given any relief to farmers."
Political parties such as the Janata Dal (S), Aam Aadmi Party and several NGOs are supporting the protest, she said.